Historically the long-term storage of wine was handled by
wine merchants but since the mid 20th century the task of
handling and storing wine has increasingly fallen to consumers.
Industries relating to specialty wine storage facilities
and the construction of home-based wine cellars have emerged
to cater to the storage needs of consumers.
storage conditions, there are three factors that have the most
pronounced effect on the wine: light, humidity and temperature.
Direct light, whether it be sunlight or incandescent, can adversely
react with phenolic compounds in the wine and create potential
wine faults. Delicate, light-bodied white wines run the greatest
risk from light exposure and are often packaged in darkly tinted
wine bottles that offer some protection from the light. Wines
packaged in clear, light green and blue colored bottles are
the most vulnerable to light and may need extra precautions
for storage. For example, the Champagne house of Louis Roederer
uses cellophane wrap to protect its premium cuvee Cristal
from light, the wine being packaged in a clear bottle. In the
cellar, wines are stored in corrugated boxes or wooden crates
to protect the wines from direct light.
of humidity is required in order to keep wines with cork enclosures
from drying out. Even when wine bottles are stored on their
sides, one side of the cork is still exposed to air. If the
cork begins to dry out, it can allow oxygen to enter the bottle,
filling the ullage space and possibly causing the wine to spoil
or oxidize. Excessive humidity can also pose the risk of damaging
wine labels, which may hinder identification or hurt potential
resale value. Wine experts such as Jancis Robinson note that
75% humidity is often cited as ideal but there is very little
significant research to definitively establish an optimal range.
Concern about humidity is one of the primary reasons why wine
experts such as Tom Stevenson recommends that wine should not
be kept in a refrigerator since the refrigeration process often
includes dehumidifying, which can quickly dry out corks.
experts debate the importance of humidity for proper wine storage.
In the Wine Spectator, writer Matt Kramer cites a French
study which claimed that the relative humidity within a bottle
is maintained at 100% regardless of the closure used or the
orientation of the bottle.
However, Alexis Lichine contends that low humidity can still
be detrimental to premium wine quality due to the risk of the
cork drying out. As a way of maintaining optimal humidity, Lichine
recommends spreading half an inch of gravel on the floor of
a wine cellar and periodically sprinkling it with some water.
and other factors
very susceptible to changes in temperature, with temperature
control being an important consideration in wine storage. If
the wine is exposed to too high a temperature (in excess of
77 °F (25°C)) for long periods of time, it may become spoilt
or "cooked" and develop off flavors that taste raisiny or stewed.
The exact length of time that a wine is at risk of exposure
to high temperatures will vary depending on the wine, with some
wines (such as Madeira which is exposed to high temperatures
during its winemaking) being able to sustain exposure to high
temperatures more easily than other, more delicate wines (such
as Riesling). If the wine is exposed to temperatures that are
too cold, the wine can freeze and expand, causing the cork to
be pushed out; this will allow more oxygen to be exposed to
the wine. Dramatic temperature swings (such as repeated transferring
a wine from a warm room to a cool refrigerator) can also cause
adverse chemical reactions in the wine that may lead to a variety
of wine faults. Most experts, such as Jancis Robinson, recommend
that wine be kept at constant temperatures between 50 and 59
°F (10 and 15 °C).
Tom Stevenson speculates that 52 °F (11 °C) may be
the most ideal temperature for storage and aging.
condition of the bottled wine will influence a wine's aging.
Vibrations and heat fluctuations can hasten a wine's deterioration
and cause adverse effect to it. In general, a wine has a greater
potential to develop complexity and a more aromatic bouquet
if it is allowed to age slowly in a relatively cool environment.
The lower the temperature, the more slowly a wine develops.
On average, the rate of chemical reactions in wine doubles with
each 18°F (8 °C) increase in temperature. Wine expert Karen
MacNeil, recommend keeping wine intended for aging in a cool
area with a constant temperature around 55 °F (13 Â°C).
Wine can be stored at temperatures as high as 69 °F (21 °C)
without long-term negative effect. Professor Cornelius Ough
of the University of California, Davis believes that wine can
be exposed to temperatures as high as 120 °F (49 °C)
for a few hours and not be damaged.
of the bottle
racks are designed to allow a wine to be stored on its side.
The thinking behind this orientation is that the cork is more
likely to stay moist and not dry out if it is kept in constant
contact with the wine. Some wineries package their wines upside
down in the box for much the same reason. Research in the late
1990s suggested that the ideal orientation for wine bottles
is at a slight angle, rather than completely horizontal. This
allows the cork to maintain partial contact with the wine in
order to stay damp but also keeps the air bubble formed by a
wine's ullage at the top rather than in the middle of the bottle
if the wine is lying on its side. Keeping the ullage near the
top, it has been argued, allows for a slower and more gradual
oxidation and maturation process. This is because the pressure
of the air bubble that is the ullage space rises and falls depending
on temperature fluctuation. When exposed to higher temperatures
the bubble's pressure increases (becomes positive relative to
the air outside of the bottle, and if the wine is tilted at
an angle, this compressed gas will diffuse through the cork
and not harm the wine. When the temperature falls the process
reverses. If the wine is completely on its side then this action
will eject some wine through the cork. Through this "breathing"
which can result from variations in temperature, oxygen may
be repeatedly introduced into the bottle and as a result can
react with the wine. An appropriate and constant temperature
is therefore preferred. Additionally, oxidation will occur more
rapidly at higher temperatures and gases dissolve into liquids
faster the lower the temperature. 
wines can benefit from lying on their side, Champagne and other
sparkling wines tend to age better if they are kept upright.
This is because the internal pressure caused by the trapped
carbonic gas provides enough humidity and protection from oxygen.
The preference for upright storage of Champagne is shared by
the ComitÃ© Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC)
who conducted an extensive study of Champagnes that were stored
in various conditions and orientations. This study found that
Champagne stored on its side aged more quickly because oxygen
was allowed to seep in after the Champagne corks lost their
elasticity due to contact with the moist wine.
wine that is bottled with alternative wine closures other than
cork have many of the same considerations in regards to temperature
and light sensitivity. While humidity and concerns about oxidation
are not as pronounced, the relative recent popularity and increased
usage of these closures have not given much opportunity for
much research into the storage and aging potential of wines
that use these closures.
to store wine
end of the 20th century, there has been growth in industries
relating to wine storage. Some wine connoisseurs may elect to
store their wine at home in a dedicated room or closet. Other
options involve purchases and rentals at off-site wine storage
facilities that are specifically designed for the task.
prematurely develop if stored in an environment that has large
temperature variations, particularly if these occur frequently.
Wine should never be stored in temperatures that are too cold
(under 12 °C/53.6 °F) as this will inhibit the development
of the wine. Similarly, wine stored in temperatures that are
too warm (over 19 °C/66.2 °F) will cause overly rapid
development of your wine. Temperature control systems ensure
the wine cellar temperature is very stable. The variations cause
corks to expand and contract which leads to oxidation of the
is stored in conditions that are too dry, the cork will shrink
and cause leakage. Too moist, and mould and contamination may
occur. Climate Controlled Wine Storage maintains moderate humidity
levels (55%-75%) to avoid these problems and assist in the optimum
wine development conditions.
focus on the construction of home wine cellars and wine caves,
small rooms or spaces in which to store wine. Others produce
smaller wine accessories, such as racks and wine refrigerators. These appliances can feature
adjustable temperature interfaces, two chambers for red and
white wines, and materials which protect the wine from the sun
and ambient environment.
Science of Wine Aroma
the Acids in Wine
(Tannins) in Wine
The Basic Wine Pairing Rules
Science of Food and Wine
a Wine Sommelier
Stevenson "The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia" pg
46 Dorling Kindersley 2005
J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine"
Third Edition pg 664 Oxford University Press 2006
M. Kramer "Seeking Closure" The Wine Spectator
pg 36 October 31st, 2007
Alexis (1967). Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wines
and Spirits. London: Cassell & Company Ltd.. Chp
J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine"
Third Edition pg 5-7 Oxford University Press 2006
K. MacNeil The Wine Bible pg 79-82 Workman Publishing
Robinson Jancis Robinson's Wine Course Third Edition
pg 42-44 Abbeville Press 2003
Magazine "The lay down on storage" July 26th, 2001
Coolers 101." Winehiker Witiculture. http://www.californiawinehikes.com/winehiker/1/wine-coolers-101/